As we transition and begin to spend a bit more time indoors this fall, we've come up with five great activities that you can engage kids with this season.
1. Make a bird feeder
There are many great resources online for home made bird feeders. This one from MamaPapaBubba, which uses gelatin to form the bird seed and encourages you to use your own cookie cutters to make fun shapes that can be hung in your yard via twine to provide nutrition for migrating birds this fall.
2. Set up an indoor birding station
As temperatures begin to dip lower and summer turns to fall, we may all be looking for ways to engage with nature and wildlife from the comforts of our own home. The fall is a wonderful time for bird watching as many seasonal migrants are making their way southbound for winter. This means your chance of spotting a species that may not be endemic to your region is far more likely! Keep track of birds you see in your backyard and always be at the ready by placing a regional bird book and pair of binoculars, along with a notebook near a spot in your home that looks outside (even better if it is set up to peer at a feeder).
Even if you do not spot new species every day, keep track of the bird behavior of your neighborhood birds and record other phenological observations like temperature and weather patterns. You can also download a number of field guide or naturalist apps onto your phone to compare bird calls and sightings and learn to identify birds by more than just sight.
3. Build and/or install a raptor or owl nest box
Fall is a wonderful time to build and place nest boxes for birds to use in the spring, since many birds are beginning their migrations south they may even see a nest box on your property and remember to come back there next year to nest! The American Kestrel nest box is the perfect size for another bird of prey, the Eastern Screech Owl as well! The American Kestrel is a species of raptor that has been threatened by loss of nesting habitat, by building a nest box and placing it in your yard or property you are providing an important resource for a threatened raptor species. Learn more about American Kestrel Nest boxes from the American Kestrel Partnership, a project of the Peregrine Fund. If you aren't ready to build your own nest box, you can purchase one that has already been made from Teton Raptor Center.
4. Leave the leaves, or consider composting them
While many of us are taught that raking the leaves in our yard is what we do, this fall consider letting your kids skip this chore. Leaves are important as they decompose over the winter and enrich your yard's soil to make for a better ecosystem for things like worms or salamanders that your bird neighbors will feed on. Another option is to build a compost pile or bin for your yard and compost your leaves this fall.
5. Make/dress up as a raptor for your halloween costumes!
Print out and color a raptor mask! Use photos from our raptor photo gallery to color the masks with the right traits for each species. Check out some of these printable templates from firstpalette.com. You can also listen to raptor sound recordings from the 2020 Radio RaptorFest to perfect your spooky bird of prey sounds for Halloween!